Tilburg lecturer is surprise number two on PvdA/GroenLinks list

Esmah Lahlah has been in charge of anti-poverty policy in Tilburg since 2018 Photo: ANP/HH Dolph Cantrijn

The left-wing alliance of Labour (PvdA) and GroenLinks has named Tilburg alderwoman and university lecturer Esmah Lahlah as its number two candidate for the parliamentary elections in November.

Lahlah, 43, is ranked above current GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver in the joint party list, headed by former European commissioner Frans Timmermans. She stands out as a political outsider on a list dominated by the two parties’ sitting MPs.

Three of the top five names on the list and six of the top 10 are women, according to an advance copy obtained by RTL Nieuws. Two female MPs, Kati Piri of the PvdA and Lisa Westerveld of GroenLinks, are fourth and fifth repectively.

Lahlah was working as a lecturer in psychology, specialising in child abuse, neglect and the impact of violence on children in the Dutch Moroccan community, when she was appointed to take charge of anti-poverty policy in Tilburg in 2018.

She won praise for her initiatives, such as giving couples claiming benefits a settling-in period when they move in together rather than cutting their entitlement straight away, and creating “basic jobs” for people who are unable to find work in the regular labour market.

She was politically unaffiliated until she joined GroenLinks in 2021, citing climate and social stability as her main priorities.

The PvdA/GroenLinks joint ticket is currently predicted to win between 22 and 26 seats in November, which would make it one of the three largest groups in parliament.

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